Just a couple of inches or a couple of seconds could have changed everything.
Amid the chaos of a violent struggle inside the Grays Harbor County Courthouse, the timing of a trigger pull or the trajectory of a bullet could have ended in tragedy. Sheriff’s Deputy Polly Davin has spent much of the past month thinking through a million different possibilities.
Looking back now, she said she feels immense gratitude and a bit of wonder.
“I’m just amazed when I think about what could have happened,” she said. “When you hear the whole story about what happened, it’s just amazing that it wasn’t worse.”
Davin, a 14-year veteran with the Sheriff’s Office, suffered two stab wounds and then was shot in the arm with her own handgun during a desperate confrontation inside the courthouse on March 9. Superior Court Judge David Edwards also suffered minor stab injuries when he intervened in the struggle.
A 34-year-old McCleary man with a history of bizarre behavior, Steven D. Kravetz, faces charges in the attack including an attempted murder charge for allegedly shooting Davin. He has not entered a preliminary plea and remains in custody on $900,000 bail.
Davin said she has made a rapid recovery in the past month. She returned to duty Monday and has enjoyed resuming a routine.
With a bit of happy disbelief, Davin said she cannot thank enough everyone who has helped her since the shooting. She is grateful for everyone’s support and the impressive police work that quickly collared the suspect in the hours after the incident.
“I can’t help but smile most of the time,” she said. “Everything was set in place for a successful outcome. If anything had been set just a little bit different, we would have had a different outcome. It’s just amazing.”
TRAINING & ADRENALINE
Investigative records explain Davin first walked the short distance from the Sheriff’s Office to the courthouse March 9 in response to calls about a suspicious man acting odd in the hallways. Wearing her patrol uniform, she asked the man about his business at the courthouse and within moments found herself in a fight for her life.
The sudden and attack crystallized warnings she received at the police academy about how a routine contact can quickly turn deadly.
“This is what they always talk about,” she said. “People will want to hurt you just because you wear a uniform.”
Davin declined to discuss details of the encounter because she will likely testify in trial against Kravetz, but court records stated she asked the man to step outside to talk and he suddenly grabbed her from behind. The man stabbed at her with a small knife as they struggled just inside the courthouse front entrance.
“There was a lot of adrenaline involved,” she said. “The training kicks in. I was amazed how much the training kicks in.”
As Davin fought off the man, Judge Edwards reportedly descended the nearby stairs and pushed the attacker away from her. Court records stated the man turned on Edwards with the knife, leaving a puncture injury near the judge’s neck.
“(Edwards) didn’t have to do what he did,” she said. “Everybody has a fight or flight response in them and I was lucky enough to have him there to help me. He probably saved my life.”
Davin pulled her .40-caliber handgun, but told investigators she did not fire for fear of hitting Edwards. The man then reported turned back to her, quickly snatching away her pistol and knocking her to the ground.
“It’s a sickening feeling to lose control of your gun,” she said. “No officer ever wants to lose control of their gun.”
Court records stated the man stood over her and fired twice, hitting her in the left arm. He then fled as Davin, Edwards and others moved to the safety of the third floor to wait for medical crews to arrive.
Ambulances rushed them to Grays Harbor Community Hospital where they both were treated and quickly released. Davin said the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement officials kept her informed on the search throughout the evening.
When she returned home, she found business cards from Seattle and Portland media on her front door. A television news crew quickly approached her about an interview, but she declined. As a former reporter for The Daily World, she said she found it strange to be on the other side of the story.
“That whole night was just surreal,” she said.
Davin praised the detective work and the cooperative manhunt that located Kravetz at his mother’s Olympia home. Investigators report Kravetz surrendered without incident and pointed officers to Davin’s handgun.
“I don’t think I could do this job anymore if anyone else had gotten hurt with that gun,” she said. “When we got my gun back that was a lot of weight off my shoulders.”
Davin pointed to her left arm about an inch below her shoulder, describing the gunshot injury as a “through-and-through” wound that miraculously missed any vital tissue.
“It didn’t hit bone. It didn’t hit artery. I was very fortunate,” she said. “It hit me in the arm in the best place possible.”
With a smile, she said her doctor called it the “Hollywood shot” that the hero gets in a movie. She has kept the injury clean and bandaged, saying the wound appears to be closing well.
She also pointed to faint red marks on her cheek and at the base of her throat. Both puncture wounds have nearly disappeared. The one in her cheek required a single stitch.
“I could not have been more fortunate in how this all turned out,” she said.
Davin’s healing process has also involved psychologically working through the shooting and coming to terms with what happened. She said she has thought through all of the ways it could have been worse. She could have faced a long physical rehabilitation process or permanent disability.
She could have easily been killed.
“I’ve done the second guessing. I’ve done the what-ifs,” she said. “I’ve been given a whole month to go through that process. … It allowed me to go through a lot of different emotions in that time.”
Davin thanked the department for the support and time off. Many colleagues have rallied around her and warned her not to try to rush back before she is ready.
She said she has also had time to meet with Edwards and thank him as well as the other court staff that rushed to her side in the moments after the shooting.
“It’s been nice to be able to connect to those people,” she said. “You’re kind of connected in a new way now.”
Davin sorted through a basket of dozens of cards and well-wishes she received in the weeks after the shooting. Many cards came from her coworkers and her church, but also some from the East Coast and the South.
“I’ve got a stack of cards. My house looks like a funeral home with all the flowers,” she said. “It’s just amazing the people who took the time. … I’ve gotten cards from the most unlikely people.”
Several FBI members sent over a box of brownies. She joked she may have gained a few pounds from all the candy and other treats.
“I cannot fully express the gratitude, the overwhelming support,” she said. “It’s been unbelievable, the flowers, the cards. … This is all stuff that’s going to go into a scrap book at some point.”
Gov. Chris Gregoire also called in the days after the shooting to check on Davin and express her concern.
“She wanted to let me know that she and her husband were praying for me,” Davin said.
Exactly a month after the shooting, Davin returned to work. She said she started on “light-duty” this week, filing paperwork and getting back into a routine. She hopes to quickly progress back to investigative work, but she said the department has worked to ease her back into duty.
“This week we’re trying to arrange for me to get out to the (firing) range to just kind of get back into the swing of things,” she said. “It’s all part of the process that they use to just get me psychologically back into the right mindset. Then I’m hoping within a month or so I can go back on patrol again.”
Davin said it feels good to get back to work. She also voiced support for the new security measures at the courthouse.
It’s been a long time coming,” she said. “It’s a hard way to go about it, but nobody had to get killed.”
Despite the emotional ups and downs of the past month, Davin said she cannot be more thankful. Both she and Edwards have returned to work. A suspect faces charges.
“When I think back on it, when I want to second guess things,” she said, “I always come back to yeah, but we won. In the end we won.”
Davin said she also has a new appreciation for the Harbor and the people who surrounded her in the wake of the attack.
“This whole community has just wrapped their arms around me and helped me get better,” she said. “The overwhelming feeling I’ve had throughout all of this is just gratefulness. It’s just incredible to watch the community come together.
“I’m sitting here today,” she added. “I know personally it very easily could have been something very different.”